Overheard on CNN.com: Can the Romneys relate to the average family?
In light of comments by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, readers are discussing if the Romneys can relate to average folks.
April 12th, 2012
07:36 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Can the Romneys relate to the average family?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen has apologized for comments about Ann Romney, whom she said "never worked a day in her life" as a stay-at-home mother. "Mommy wars" and women's issues have taken center stage. Readers discussed whether the Romneys can relate to moms and families.

Ann Romney and working moms

The most-liked comment on the story agreed with Rosen.

DrMAH: "(Rosen is) absolutely right. The ultra-rich Romneys have no idea what the rest of us go through, and Mitt has made it clear that he has no interest in finding out. She's not qualified to speak about women's concerns. LOTS of us struggle with illness, get degrees, and raise kids, but almost NONE of us have an army of domestic servants to do all the heavy lifting while we work on our dressage."

Some of the responses talked about the Romneys' inexpensive basement apartment during their undergraduate years.

brianwaz: "They lived in a $50-a-month basement apartment at the start of their marriage (with a baby). Try using facts next time."

nullcodes: "Though he lived in a basement apartment, his dad who was a governor could have saved him from any real financial or other messes."

Many of our readers have wondered whether the Romneys' situation compares to those of other Americans.

dkinabq: "What exactly does Ann Romney have to say about the struggles of women? Did she raise her children by herself? Is she facing her illnesses without health insurance? Is she working two jobs to make ends meet for her family? The Romneys are so out of touch with reality, it isn't funny."

JHarris: "Ann Romney has been blessed financially, but has struggled in other areas. She has been diagnosed with both MS and breast cancer (in remission). It is not 'reality' that everybody is struggling financially. It is also not 'reality' that everybody has major health issues. Different people have different trials. Ann Romney has had her share."

This reader said we shouldn't expect the Romneys to live like paupers.

Sarah: "Not everyone in America doesn't have health insurance or is a single mom or working two jobs. The whole point of this country is that, yeah, some people have the opportunity to have way more money than the rest of us. Why do we have to begrudge them that? Single parenthood, working two jobs, etc. is SOME people's reality, but not everyone's. Having more money than most of the rest of us could ever dream of is the Romney's reality. They're in touch with their own reality."

And this person wanted to know what insight Ann Romney can offer.

JLubes: "The bigger question is how does any of her experience give her any insight on the economy or jobs for women? If you've never had a paying job, never had to work for insurance, never had to make ends meet to pay for food how can she possibly relate to those women (the majority) that are? How can she possibly relate to someone like my mother who had to raise two kids in a single bedroom apartment while going back to school and collecting welfare? How many Thanksgivings did she have to go to the food shelf to make sure she could feed her kids? She has no idea about these issues yet Romney has no problem going to her as the expert in this regard. These are the points Rosen is talking about. When you are championed as knowing what issues women are going through you are going to get criticized for your shortcomings."

This reader says she believes working out of the home has financial consequences as well as benefits.

Grammie: "Lots of us who stayed at home didn't have that income and what it could buy. My husband and I lagged behind some of our friends' ability to afford vacations, new cars, domestic help, etc. However some of our friends, even with two incomes, didn't do any better than we did. Working out of the home is per se more expensive and unless the two partners each have a substantial income your added expenses and taxes can virtually wipe out any potential financial advantage. It costs money if both parents have full-time jobs outside the home. I had my fill of sneering condescension from my feminist neighbors 30 years ago and that attitude appears to be alive and well today. ... I don't think that it is coincidental that this steadily worsening debt and economic crisis has been growing in tandem with the ever-increasing demands for government to provide that which husbands and fathers provided in the past."

Some said Rosen is being selective in her views.

bjiggs: "Yes, we know Hilary. You care about women. You've been fighting for them your entire career ... but only those whose politics are in agreement with your own. The rest can take a flying leap as far as you're concerned, right? Can you cite a single example of a time you 'defended the rights' of a conservative woman? Just one more hack."

This reader said Mitt Romney, not Hilary Rosen, is to blame.

claudiaW: "Romney brought this discussion on himself by designating his wife to make his case for him. Hilary is right. Mrs. Romney has had all the luxuries that come with having money and has never had to face the burdens of women who work outside the home while also tending to their families. Health care is a huge concern to women, but Mr. Romney wants to end Planned Parenthood as well as the Affordable Care Act. Mitt Romney has no idea of the struggles that most women AND men face today. Mrs. Romney said their concern is the economy, yet her husband's record on jobs is abysmal."

Jed Sybrowsky: "Haha ... Really? Did you really just say Mrs. Romney has never had to face the burdens [other] women face? I'm sorry to break it to you but the Romneys' money didn't fix her MS. It's people like you that think money fixes everything. People who have money still feel pain and hardship. I think she understands hardship as well as anyone else."

Some said Obama's policies have been tough on mothers.

blueskiesmom: "Feminists and socialists have never understood the importance of the family unit and it looks like they never will. I chose to stay home and raise our kids, but it wasn't a luxury, it was a sacrifice - financially. It was a decision I'd make again now that I've seen the adults my kids have become. Let me also say, if anyone understands the brunt of the Obama economy, it's the moms who have to manage the higher food prices, higher gas prices, lower home values and still make a dollar stretch across the needs of an entire family. Maybe Ann Romney has more money than me, but she's also raised kids that pay into the economy and aren't expecting the rest of us to pay for their abortions or day care choices."

Are politicians in touch with people?

fofotavour: "Mitt Romney's wife has not worked a day in her life; that is a fact. She's a stay-at-home mom; that's a fact. There are many other stay-at-home moms also, and that's a fact. The difference between them and Ann Romney is that many of these other stay-at-home moms have to take care of their children without the luxury of having a nanny at their disposal, clean the house by themselves without having a cleaning staff, cook the meals without having cooks ... without any experts helping them send the money to offshore banks to avoid being taxed more than 14%, and so on and so forth. That's the fact, too. Now are you telling me that the Romneys are in touch with the working class in America? I say no ..."

jimtellsthetruth: "Unlike Obama who never worked a 'real' job in his life, and no, being a professor and a government employee is hardly hard work. What a joke, last time I checked Obama was a millionaire, too! Lets see what his tax rate is in a couple of years, what a joke."

What's your take? Who's in touch? Who's not? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Economy • Elections • Mitt Romney • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
soundoff (277 Responses)
  1. Cort

    Hey ria, stop drinking the koolaid. The GOP wants to keep health care a privilege and not a right – it is they who want control of your health. The GOP wants to take away a woman's right to choose – it is they who want to control your body. The GOP wants to cut Pell grants and other financing so that the poor and middle class cannot be educated – it is they who want to control your education. Sorry, but you should do your homework. Part of living in a thriving democracy is knowing the issues...

    April 14, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Matte Trygg

    I think the biggest issue at hand is what did this candidate do that would benefit the economic situation at hand. we as a country of creative people need to change our views and look at causes and affects. what caused this disaster is 30 years of bad economic decisions. we need to return to the country of workers not whom you can make a dollar off of by being a bystander. screw fair trade it does not work in the long term financial world. bring the work back to your own country. my relatives live in different parts of the world and they are sick and tired of chinese made crap in their countries. dry up the chinese manufacturing demand make it youself and let them sink in their own polluted products. when i was young my father told me you buy what your own country makes. what happened to those values. america allowed world trade to let the chinese dominate manufacturing. time to turn things around vote for a candidate that wants american production to return to homemade.

    April 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nilsen

    As a feminist and a socialist ( I am from Norway ) we not only understand the problems of family issues, but we have addressed them and we are number one on standard of living. Just take some time, some of you anti-socialists, to find out what it really means in modern western European countries that have socialist programs in place before you bash it. I am a socialist. I will never loose my home due to illness. I will never go bankrupt because of illness. And when I had my babies I enjoyed time off with pay as did my husband. America, wake up and smell the privatization. It will bring you back to the 19th century. The Romney's need to stay out of politics. And, they will. BHO 2012

    April 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • concernedjoy

      This country was not formed to be a socialist country. Appears we're seeing now what having all you needs met for you by the government has led to in Europe. Those countries just cannot afford to do it anymore.

      April 15, 2012 at 4:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. chelsea

    Hillary Rosen is right... Ann Romney has never faced the stress of caring for her children and paying the billls and dealing with healthcare. Ann was blessed to be able to choose to be a stay at home mother, which is great. most of us mothers would have loved to be in the position of being able to choose staying at home. a majority of American women are not so blessed. Romney brought Ann into the eye of the storm by promoting Ann in his campaign speeches as his women's economic advisor... for which women? for insight into women in the top 2% economic strata... what about us 98% women... who is he consulting with to get that information???!?

    April 14, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sara

    Hillary Rosen was right in the entirity of her statement. Ann Romney Don't Speak for me. No one is angry at her for having wealth.....It sure makes Everything Easier....But has she ever walked the floor at night holding and praying a sick child would respond to the Tylenol I had given him because their were no insurance...or the restless, sleepless nights you spent figuring out which mansion I would jet off to.

    April 14, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Heather E

    To stay at home moms,

    Please stop trying to convince me how hard your "job" is and I'll stop trying to convince you how easy it is.

    A working mom

    April 14, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      @Heather E,it all comes down to this,if you love your kids,its not a JOB to take care of them.Quit complaining ,you could be a women not being able to have children and give their all to have one.This is from a father who's a stage 4 cancer survivor and is now taking care of my son for over 5 years, who was involved in an auto,motorcycle accident .With him comatosed for 8 months and starting all over with him,physically and mentally its truely a hand full.I can tell you I speak to people all the time giving me kudos for being there,but ya know what, he's my boy and no matter what,he's gonna get the best care I can give him possible.So I can't work anymore because my cancer left me unable to do my job as a union welded,fitter anymore,I still even in extreme pain take care of him first,he's my major concern in life.So to Ann Romney and other women complaining about caring for their OOPS in life,come walk in my shoes,all 12-4E of them,in one week you'll be happy to have your little buggers runnin ya ragged,I assure ya...And I don't have maids ,nannies,like Ann does, just my ex-wife, a cna and nurse once in a while for help sometimes to pitch in.I'm also responsible for doctors visits,transportation,etc.But overall,I wouldn't trade him for anything,he's still mine and I'll think I'll keep him... From a proud Dad...

      April 15, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. Renee

    Ann Romney may have had medical issues, but she had insurance and money to get the best medication and treatments available along with staff to take care of her house, meals, shopping and children when she wasn't feeling well. That is not even close to the reality the majority of us face – men or women. Everyone has challenges and money can't solve everything, but it sure makes things a hell of a lot easier to deal with. As far as the stay at home vs. working mother issue, I have done both and each choice requires commitment and sacrifices, but let's not kid ourselves – staying home and raising your children yourself is not even close to staying home and having staff who cook, clean and take care of your children.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. migeli

    The Romneys keep their money in Switzerland. Thats all I have to know about their great concern for Americans

    April 15, 2012 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. Anthony

    Why do people keep voting this multi millionaires into office and then complain when they vote against your financial interests? People like the Romney's just don't get it and how could they. They drone on about sharing a 50 dollar a month apt. but his daddy was a gov. at the time and I'm sure he wasnt "sufferering" too much. Just listening to him talk is a education on elitism and grandiosity. Romney made the bulk of his wealth by buying into companies, borrowing against the companies assets and then, leaving the company to either pay a huge loan or go into bankruptcy. He seems to be at the core of what is really wrong with America. Any presidential nominee who keeps a swiss bank account and huge assets in offshore accounts so he doesnt have to pay taxes..isnt fit to be president...period.

    April 15, 2012 at 5:26 am | Report abuse |

    Mitt McCain pulled off the latest of MANY gaffes when he used his wife to try to combat the GOBP War on women. The reality is that the good old boys of the unhinged GOBP exposed their plans for women and the "gals" aren't on board, so Mitt McCain panicked when he saw the polls. Rosen didn't change that.

    April 15, 2012 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |

    Mitt McCain threw Anne to the wolves when the polls shifted. Bottom line.

    April 15, 2012 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |

    Anne must really be happy that Mitt McCain pushed her out front when he saw the polls that women won't vote for him.

    April 15, 2012 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |

    Empty suit hiding behind his wife.

    April 15, 2012 at 6:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. NASCAR Mama for Obama

    I have not had MS or cancer so would not understand what Ann Romney went through. But when I read her quote from the 90's about how they struggled back in the day because they were "nibbling away at their stocks and living on the edge–couldn't entertain"–I realized she could not understand what I and other average Americans go through.

    April 15, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  15. A Real American

    Can the Obama's relate ???? Not One bit to me and my family ... Why is the only question here about whether or not the Romney's relate. Many people In this country don't have one thing at all in common with the Obama's and no one seems to be questioning their ability to relate to the average American family!!!! None of Obama's policies help me and my situation at all .. I'm not looking for the government to pay my way. I want jobs and incomes to be good enough that we can always take care of ourselves ...

    April 15, 2012 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      @A Real American,did ya relate to Bush,his shipping jobs overseas faster then ya can count.Can't produce jobs when they're all overseas,with tax breaks,thanks to Bush and company,remember.Pres.Obama worked to get his degrees,so too his wife,not getting handouts like the rightwing hypocrites tell everyone.They had student loans like everyone else,nothin special I assure you.So before you go babbling about not relating,like I said to another ill informed repub idiot,do your research.If anyone can't relate its the bimbo Ann and her flipflopping Mormon husband Mitt,a couple of out of touch douchbags,who are in the clouds about everything,from motherhood to accusing Russia as our number one foe,now he's real presidential material isn't he,LOL!!!

      April 15, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • DoNotWorry

      Romney and his wife were "playing" at being a poor young couple. That is not the same as REALLY not having more and having nothing to back you up. They worked alone for what they have? That's a joke. He got a free education through Harvard University Law School. He became CEO of a corporation at a very young age due to family connections. This is now how the world looks to most Americans. Of course they cannot relate to average Americans... they think they did it all by themselves! They are delusional and so is anyone who backs them up. Corporate looters are just looters who won't go to jail, they are NOT creating business.

      April 15, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • hawksteel

      I agree. Obama and the first lady are not exactly the average struggling Americans either, being Harvard law graduates. They are not your average struggling families who have to worry about the bills. They are millionaires who don't have to worry about bills. Lets face it, how many presidents (or presidential candidates) in the past were struggling financially like averaged Americans? Honestly ask yourself. Be real. Why does it matter if the presidents are millionaires? If the president can do a fine job in fixing the economy and creating jobs, he will help the entire country, and he will make life much easier for those struggling families. That is what matters.

      This should not be an issue in this election. It has become an issue only because Obama has done a miserable job in the stagnant economy , in high unemployment, and in mounting deficits. He cannot win the election over Romney on these issues. So he and his campaign surrogates like Rosen have to find a way to try to deflect voters' attention away from these main issuest by using character assassination of the Romneys, even if they have to lie about it. They think that if they can repeat these lies enough times, gullible voters will listen and believe in the lies as facts. Talking about dirty politics.

      However, at this critical moment in history, America is facing serious economic problems, high unemployment and mounting deficits. The country is in danger of being another Greece under Obama's big spending and weak economic policies. voters are not looking for a social worker in the commander in chief. They want an expert and a turn around specialist who can fix and grow the economy, create jobs, balance the budget and reduce the benefit. Obama has failed miserably so far. The country is already at the mercy of China's money, and is being left in the dust economically by other thriving world powers. Millions of family are struggling to make ends meet. Millions are without jobs.

      It is exactly why we need Mitt Romney now. He is a highly efficient executive and a successful governor of Massachusetts where he turned around the 3 billion deficit into 2 billion surplus with approx 4% unemployment. He won MA by a whopping 72% of the votes. People obviously love his successful governing to give him that kind of support. He has potent skills in the economy and jobs. Obama was a lawyer with no training or experience in business and the economy. He had his chance to fix the economy and failed miserably. It is time for a change for someone else much more qualified to turn around the economy. This is Romney's time to shine. He will turn around the country like he did for many businesses, the Olympics and Massachusetts. The choice for the voters is clear. Romney 2012.

      April 16, 2012 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Middle American Man

      I'd rather have a man, like Romney, who knows how to make money. He is a self made millionaire who knows how to make money, make jobs and could possibly save this country from swirling down the drain. Obama is just a liberal idealist who hasn't got a clue on how to get America stabilized. We need to get this country's economy moving again before we go all "green" this and "carbon footprint" that. Obama, you've experimented with us for nearly four years, you're time is up.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
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